Monday, September 28, 2009


My first day to sleep in without Wes waking me up, and I was up by 7am. Figures. The morning was really relaxing. Had breakfast and hung out with Mark's wife, Molly, and kids. Around 11am we took off to view the naval ships. They are huge! One had a group of guys hitting each other with foam things. I’d guess they were practicing taking away rifles from people trying to attack them..?

Next stop was the hospital to meet up with Mark for lunch. We had food from the commissary, which was sooooo cheap! Two meals and a pop for $5. After lunch, Wes and I headed over to Balboa Park. The gardens were beautiful, but we didn’t tour any of the museums. The Natural History Museum had the Body display, which was temping. We still had some time to waste, so we drove downtown and found a pub with Wes’s Pub Finder app on his iPhone. When he first bought it I thought it was a waste of money, but every time we travel it’s come in very handy! I’ve probably already saved a tree by not having to print off a ton of google maps.

We had a couple beers at Neighborhood ( We only had to wait a few minutes for the 2-for-1 special to begin. Perfect timing! A few they had on tap we can get in Iowa, but some she said we wouldn’t even be able to find bottled anywhere.


On our way back to Mark and Molly’s we stopped at Henry’s Farmers Market. It’s the same place we stopped at in OC that was like Trader Joe’s. We were getting low on some of our staples (soy milk, soy cheese, and garden burgers), and I also picked up some stuff for dinner. Mark was grilling up salmon and steaming broccoli, and I got some brussels sprouts. It’s a very under-appreciated vegetable, so I like to feed it to people at any chance I get.  It went over well with everyone…including the 5-year-old. Caroline rocks!

Our plans have changed for tomorrow. Mark and Molly talked us in to taking a kayak tour in La Jolla. The rest of the day is a bit up in the air.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Race Day!

On days I swim with Milky Way Masters I’m up at 4:15am, but for some reason 4am seemed REALLY early this morning. Wes wasn’t quite as eager to get out of bed as the previous two days. I made us the standard pre-race meal of an egg sandwich with soy cheese and coffee with soy milk. By 5am we were on our way to the race site. The road we biked on was closed, so we had to take a roundabout way there.

Before I had put the wheel cover on I had filled my tire with air. I had made sure when I put the cover on that the valve was in the opening. In the process of attaching the cover, it shifted a bit and the valve was not easily accessible. I had only ridden a half hour and should have been content with the existing air pressure, but decided to try to fill it anyway. Bad idea. All the air came out before I could get any air in. Damn! With Wes’ help I finally got it filled.

I made my way to T1 and found my rack. We were in the order that our state joined the union (Iowa was 29th). It was still dark out which made finding everything in my transition bag a bit tricky. At 6:30 I wandered down to the beach and got in a bit of swimming after struggling in to my speed suit (complementary gift from Xterra). It’s easier to get into then a wetsuit, but not by much.

At 7am we were off. I’m usually not very paranoid about my timing chip coming off, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it today. It did manage to stay on my ankle the entire time. I could tell that most of the wave was ahead of me, but I did pass 3-4 people in the last half of the swim. I’m pretty sure all of the men’s bikes were gone by the time I got to T1, but there seemed to be several women’s still hanging. The ones on each side of me were gone, though.

The bike started off ok. The road was a bit rough and I thought that maybe my tire had gone flat. About 10min into the ride, I pulled over to the side of the road. Sometimes my break pads will get a little off and rub on the rim. I felt like I was using too much power for how slow I was riding. So I stopped to check on the breaks. I should have looked behind me and I would have realized I was going uphill instead of on a flat. The climbs were so long and steady that I frequently thought I was on a downhill when I was actually going up. I’ve never had the feeling before.

The course was an out and back with a figure 8 at the turnaround. I was surprised to see a woman coming towards me. I still had the entire figure 8 to go around! A few women passed me on the bike and I overtook a few as well.

Last night on my way home from dinner I checked out the road leading into T2. I had completely forgotten that we actually come in to T2 on the trail. I had no clue where I was. I thought I was getting close, so I unstrapped my shoes. I rode probably 5min like that before I could see T2. I was able to get my feet out just in time for the dismount.

The run started off with 3 women passing me. No surprise. Another one went around me about a mile later, but I was able to keep her in site the entire rest of the race. My run training has been so minimal the past 2 years, that I expected pretty much the entire field to pass me.

Several spectators yelled “go Iowa” and “nice game yesterday”. I know if I had my Midwest Xtreme jersey on I wouldn’t have had the same reception. When Trisha Byerley ran by me she said it was nice to see someone wearing a uniform that represented their state. I’m glad I picked the TriHawks kit.

The run course reminded me of the TriHawks course. Some of it was off-road, and the last 4-miles were all hilly! Thankfully the last mile or so was all downhill! An age-grouper woman had caught me, but she couldn’t break away. At the time I wasn’t sure if she was age group or BOUS, so I tried to stick with her. Coming into the straightaway to the finish line I was able to out sprint her. I think she just didn’t try very hard since we weren’t competing against each other.

The post-race party was pretty good. They had food catered by Trader Joes. There were also several stands giving away free things, like Snicker’s Marathon Bars, Cliff stuff, and fruit smoothies. Yummy! A band was also playing.

My main goal was to have fun and not come in last place. I felt like I did as good as I could have (minus the bike stop). I checked the results and saw I was 20th. At that time there were only 26 women listed. It was just now that I realized there were 31 that raced. Not too bad, but definitely room for improvement. But I have no idea how I could cut over 15min off my time!

At 11 was the awards ceremony. I saw that Chris, Mark, and Cindi had done well, so we stuck around. They gave awards to the top-10 men and women, and the top-5 state teams. Chris was 4th for the men. Mark and Cindy were 3rd for their gender and 1st for the state title. The top 3 of each were given Waterford crystal vases. The rest got a frame and will be sent a race picture to be put in it. We quickly congratulated all of them, then rushed back to the hotel to pack up and head for San Diego.

It was only about a 90-min drive to Mark’s (my coach/helper guy), and traffic was great! After catching up for a bit, we went to the old town area for dinner. While I was here I really wanted some authentic Mexican food. I had chicken with tomatillo sauce and Wes had fish tacos. So good!

It’s been a long day and sleeping sounds really good right now!
Bike Route
Female Results
Male Results

Saturday, September 26, 2009

What to Wear?

It was another “early” morning. Wes was ready to go by 7am again. Apparently he hasn’t adjusted to the time change yet. I’d rather get up early anyway with hopes to fall asleep early tonight. 4am is going to come fast!

First stop again, the hot tub. I opted to just dangle my feet in to not overheat my muscles. After breakfast I overly researched the best route for my bike ride. I decided to head south to meet up with the route, and then go north.

I put the back cover on my bike, and the nuts and bolts we bought yesterday seemed to work. I covered them with black electrical tape to make them slightly bit more aerodynamic, but it was mainly so no one would notice that I jimmied together the cover. I feel like a dork for forgetting the fasteners!

I’ve never been more concerned over what to wear. I brought both my Midwest Xtreme kit and the TriHawks one. I race under MWX, but I’m here representing Iowa. Final decision… MWX today, Iowa tomorrow.

I started out for my bike ride and opted to ride towards the swim start. So much for the research this morning. I rode a bit of the route with a local racer which was nice to get his perspective on the course. On the way back to the hotel I got a bit lost, but I think it worked out well for me. I definitely have more confidence going into tomorrow after riding today.

My bike to run transition was a bit slow. I didn’t want to leave my bike outside, so I brought it back up to the room. In the elevator I met the girl from Oklahoma. Swapped out my bike for running shoes, then went for a quick 15-min run. My pace felt pretty relaxed. The heat was getting to be a bit much. Thankfully it’ll be much cooler when we’re running tomorrow morning. Dry heat is still heat! I checked my Garmin 310xt (love it!) when I got back to the hotel and my paces was MUCH faster then I had thought. I guess I’m ready, but I still feel like a poser.

Grabbed some lunch at a grocery store that reminded me a lot of Trader Joe’s, then back to the hotel to eat lunch and check out the race expo. I had hoped for a bike shop since my bike is not fond of shifting to the hardest gear right now. Guess I’ll deal with it in the morning at the race start.
BOUS meet-up was at 3pm so I still had some time to waste. I did a bit of research on the toll-bridge fines. The website says they take a picture of your license plate and send a bill for $47.50 plus the charge for the toll. Great!

After the BOUS meeting, they were taking a group photo. Anther stressful moment with what to wear. Do I wear something athletic? A race t-shirt? An Iowa t-shirt? I went athletic which ended up being the best choice.

At the meeting I was finally able to meet up with Mark Harms! We graduated high school together and I’d seen his name in a couple triathlon magazines. I wondered if it was the same guy, but the pictures didn’t look like him. Earlier this year I finally realized they were one in the same. Wow! He’s doing amazing. First place last year and Hy-vee and second place this year. I had looked for him after the awards ceremony, but not luck.

During the meeting I also met Cindi Bannink and Chris Thomas. Cindi and Mark were fourth of the state teams last year. Both placed 7th overall. Chris has an amazing track record at 70.3’s this year. He’s either won 5 or 7 of them (can’t exactly remember) for the amateurs.

I dropped off my shoes at T2 and walked the transition a couple times so hopefully I’ll find them in the morning. Wes had bellied up to a pub that had the Iowa game on, so I drove over there and watched a bit. Wes pretty much kept busy with a day full of football. Games start pretty early when you’re on the west coast.

Mark had invited us out for dinner with him, Cindi, and Chris, so I took him up on it. I was pretty sure there wouldn’t be the game on there, so Wes stayed back. Mark and Chris were single at dinner, so I was fine with it. I owed Wes for making him miss the Iowa vs ISU game!

Dinner was so good! I had a seared tuna with artichoke sauce over mashed potatoes. Yummy! Mark had found the restaurant on Yelp. If you’re ever near Lake Forest, check out Tutto Famiglia ( Not only was the food good, but so was the conversation. Although they did throw around a lot of names that I didn’t recognize. All three are in a much different league then me and have been around triathlon much longer. I hope to be in their position some day.

Me, Mark Harms, Chris Thomas, and Cindi Bannink after an awesome Italian dinner!

After I left the restaurant, I drove back by T2. I had forgotten to check out the road leading to T2. I don’t want it to sneak up on my tomorrow and not have time to get my feet out of my shoes. It’s a pretty long stretch from the bike dismount to our racks. I’d had to have to do it in bike shoes!

Back at the hotel I finished watching the Iowa game. Go Hawks! Wes stumbled back after the game. Time for lights out! But first I need to set the alarm on my phone, Wes’ phone, the alarm in the room, and a wakeup call. I’ll sleep much better that way.

Friday, September 25, 2009

First I’d like to thank Sandy for being an awesome chauffer and Mark for taking care of my bike!

Thankfully we made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare. While we were standing in line to check in, I realized (with a very loud gasp) that I was missing my transition bag. As everyone was staring at me, I called Sandy who then drove back to our house, got the bag, and drove all the way back to the airport. It wasn’t until we were on the plane that I realized I had also forgotten the screws for my rear wheel cover.

Mark, Cindy’s hubby who works for Allegiant, took very good care of my bike. I even got to see the underbelly of the plane where it was to be stored (it hadn’t been loaded yet). Last time we flew with bikes we took Allegiant and they rocked, which is why we flew with them again.

Wow! It fit a lot of stuff! Will it still look like this when I open it in Las Vegas...?

I managed to sleep a lot more then I had expected. The guy a row ahead of us and on the other side of the isle was VERY loud. A lady from a few rows back even complained about it on the way out. Still worth it for the bike care!

At the car rental place we had 2 SUVs to choose from. We decided on the Nissan Pathfinder instead of the Dodge thing (ugly). Right after we started to pull out, a Jeep Wrangler pulled in. It looked like the kind that you can take the top off, but Wes wouldn’t go for it because it was a 4-door.

We finally got to the hotel, walked around, gambled with the free money the hotel gave us, used the free drink coupon, found the pool, than went to bed. It was already 3am Iowa time.

For some reason, Wes was awake and ready to go at 7am! Usually I’m the one getting him out of bed. Put on our swimsuits, and sat in the hot tub. After a few minutes, I did some laps in the hotel pool.

Showered, then down for the breakfast buffet. We had a buy one get one free coupon from the hotel. I feel that we got our money’s worth for our stay. We also finished out the free gambling money and cashed out $13. We’re big spenders.

Next stop, hardware store. While searching for a place that might have the screw things, I found out that Interbike was in Las Vegas and yesterday was the last day. That would have been awesome to go to! Anyway, I found something that will hopefully work for the rear bike wheel cover. I think it will be better then not using the cover at all.

For lunch we found the Whole Foods. One of our favorite places to eat on vacation. I picked up some peanut butter for snacking later. They have the machines like at our local co-op where it’s filled with peanuts, you hit a button, and peanut butter comes out. But, they have a ton of selections! I was in heaven! Cashew butter, almost butter, almond butter with chocolate chips, peanut butter, peanut butter with chocolate chips, and my favorite (which I haven’t been able to find since our last stay in Las Vegas) honey roasted peanuts!!! I’ll have to buy some more before we fly out next week.

Our drive to Orange County was pretty uneventful. Thankfully we were not pulled over at the fruit inspection check. I really didn’t want to hand over my apples from Iowa. Didn’t even think about that when I packed them. I also got to see a dirt devil. Tried to take a picture, but I wasn’t quick enough. We hit a bit of traffic when we got closer, and I took us onto the wrong toll-way. We also didn’t realize we would need $1.50 in change to get off the toll-way. It says it’s monitored by cameras, but is it actually? Guess we’ll find out soon…(UPDATE: yes, there are cameras, and it's not a cheap ticket!)

We’re staying at the race hotel in Foothill Ranch. Nice enough place. I unpacked the bike and put it back together. It seemed to have traveled pretty well in the case (thanks Jeremy!).

Looks good!

Wes got in a bit of relaxing before we left to drive the bike course. I swear it seemed a lot further then 40k! It’s pretty much all uphill or downhill. Nothing steep, but very long! The longest incline is about 5 miles long. We also drove down to the swim, but weren’t able to get in the water because it was already dark out. Oh, well. I guess my 10min swim this morning will have to do. Hopefully tomorrow I can get in for a quick swim. The beach area was beautiful. The race starts and ends there, but T2 is a mile or so away.

Stopped at Ralph’s for some dinner and breakfast food, and some snacks. Then back to the hotel to eat, relax, and will probably head to bed shortly. Lots of pre-race stuff to do tomorrow.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Las Vegas -> Orange County -> San Diego -> Las Vegas

I'm headed back out west to race again. This time for the Best of the US Triathlon, which is part of the Orange County Triathlon. Kind of confusing, I know. Up until this year I had no clue either. I'll try to explain and hope to not confuse you any more.

Each state has a qualifying race. The Pigman Sprint in June is Iowa's qualifying race. The fastest man and woman are given a spot to race at the Best of the US (BOUS) race. Erin Anderson, who easily beat me, was the fastest woman. She declined, so it rolled down to me. Wes and I figured it would make a great vacation, and we hoped to see Mark (coach guy who recently moved to the San Diego area and who I wouldn't have qualified for this race without) while we were there. So, one man and one woman from each state will complete at the BOUS triathlon. I assume to make things a bit easier for the BOUS organizers, they teamed up with an existing race which changes each year. This year the BOUS racers will be the first wave of the Orange County Triathlon.

It's a race full of amazing triathletes. I'm honored to be there, but very nervous about doing well. It's the end of season and I'm ready for it to be over. Time for some much-needed relaxing. I know I should just be concerned about my performance, but I REALLY don't want to come in last. Someone has to come in last and the field is full of top-rate racers.

Anway…More info at

Trip Itinerary:
Thursday Night - Depart CR at 9:35pm for Las Vegas on Allegiant Air
Friday - Drive from Las Vegas to Orange County
Saturday - Check out race course and OC area
Sunday - Race Day! After race drive to Mark's
Monday - Hang out in San Diego
Tuesday - Drive to Joshua Tree National Reserves and spend day there
Wednesday - Tour Mojave Desert, then drive to Las Vegas
Thursday - Lulu!!! and wherever else we decide to go in Las Vegas
Friday - Fly out sometime in the afternoon